Let’s get the SPOILER WARNING out of the way ‘kay?
This is a recap/review/discussion post on the latest episode of The Walking Dead so it WILL contain loads of spoilers about the episode. If you haven’t seen this week’s episode yet and you don’t want to read any spoilers I strongly suggest that you skip this post and come back after you’ve seen episode 1 of The Walking Dead Season 5. You’re pre-warned so don’t complain if you read anything that you do not want to know as yet, because that will make you the opposite of Daryl Dixon….
The Walking Dead Season 05 Episode 01 “No Sanctuary”
‘We learn the true motives of the Terminans as Rick and the group find themselves in a vulnerable situation. Will they be able to work together?’
Written By: Scott M. Gimple
Directed By: Greg Nicotero
Season 4 of The Walking Dead was widely criticized for being slow and boring and the general feeling was that there was too much talking and not enough doing (also known as slaying walkers). True fans of The Walking Dead knew that the season was all about building characters and relationships with the odd brain shattering event scattered in between (still looking at the flowers, hey Lizzy??). It built up to a horrible cliffhanger when the season ended just as our favorite Survivors finally reached Terminus and, what they thought, sanctuary. The wait for the season premiere of Season 5 was almost like prolonged torture and we lapped up every tidbit of news and spoilers that came our way (well, I did, in any case). Well people, we’ve finally reached the first episode of Season 5 of The Walking Dead, aptly named “No Sanctuary” and for me, this was the best episode ever of The Walking Dead TV show. I sat through two viewings with my hands at my face and I got so tensed up that I couldn’t lift my arms the next day. And yes, there were many tears towards the end of the episode. I admit it, the tears started rolling softly over my cheeks from the moment we saw the Daryl/Carol reunion and I ended up ugly crying by the time Rick saw that Judith was alive and well after all this time apart. Folks, I get too emotionally involved with these episodes, it physically and mentally drains me.
Just to refresh our memories on what went down in Season 4; basically it ended with a large portion of our survivors being locked up in a train cart in Terminus’ back yard. We’ve met some of the occupants of Terminus and Rick and his survivors realized that something was off with these people. Carol and Tyreese were still en-route to Terminus and we still had no idea what happened to Beth after she was kidnapped earlier in the season. The first episode of Season 5 continued right from where we left off with Season 4 – after a brief flashback scene into the early days of Terminus, we met up with Rick and the survivors in the train cart, while they were plotting how to free themselves and how they were going to get the hell out of dodge. Just as they were ready to put their plan into action, they got blindsided by the Termites and they were incapacitated by a tear gas canister being dropped from the roof of the train cart.
Rick, Bob Stookey and Glen got taken to a warehouse area and you see bits & pieces of what’s going down through Rick’s blurry eyes. This was the first jaw dropping moment of the episode and we got our very first confirmation that these people were in fact eating their victims. The camera zooms in on the stainless steel table and you see that the men at the table are cutting off the limbs of a dead person, all while the Termites forces Rick and his men to kneel down by a trough next to some other captives. Within a couple of moments we see that why they are kneeling in front of a trough – it’s to catch all the blood flowing from the throats that’s been slit. We see an awesome throwback to the comics as one of the henchmen lifts a baseball bat to hit Glen from behind but it’s interrupted by the appearance of Gareth, the leader of the Termites. He interrupts the slaughtering with some menial admin work and this is when all hell breaks loose in the compound. We hear gunshots and people shouting at each other and then a massive explosion rocks the building, knocking the people, including Rick and the survivors, from their feet. Unbeknownst to us, Carol has arrived at Terminus and she wasn’t taking any prisoners.
We go back in the timeline to see Carol and Tyreese still walking along the railway line heading towards Terminus, when they have to hide from a herd of walkers moving in the same direction. Then they stumble upon a man setting fireworks in the woods and they take him prisoner. Turns out he’s one of the Termites and he tries to convince them to come back to Terminus with him where they could live in harmony together. Carol isn’t having any of his stories and she leaves Tyreese behind to look after the prisoner and baby Judith while she sets out to find Terminus and to see if she can find their friends. Just as she arrives at the compound she witnesses the scene where Rick, Bob and Glen gets taken into the warehouse and she realizes that they are in all sorts of trouble down there. After surveying the area, she decides that the element of surprise would be her best option to go with if she has any hope of saving her friends. She sets up the fireworks to cause the massive explosion we heard earlier in the episode and let loose with gunfire into the people and walkers alike. After causing mayhem and confusion, she uses Rick’s tactic of covering herself with walker blood and innards to enter Terminus as part of the walker herd which by now was piling into the compound.
Rick and his guys break free and they go searching for the rest of survivors, encountering walkers and Termites along the way. I honestly think that the pyrotechnics and zombie gore effects in this scene is of the highest caliber and unlike anything we’ve seen on TV till now. The scene where the walker is chowing down on a Termite while he’s on fire was just mind-blowingly amazing and I stand in awe of the SFX which was undoubtedly created with Greg Nicotero at the helm of the design. Tons of walker killing are going on during these scenes while Carol is making her way through the buildings, searching for the survivors. She is finally confronted by Barbeque Mary who at first try to convince Carol that Terminus and its people isn’t as bad as they seem and that they also started out as good, honest people. The two women engage in a raw and gripping fight scene which doesn’t end very well for Mary but Carol managed to go from awesome to bad-ass within a couple of minutes.
We then go back to Tyreese and his prisoner, who is doing his utmost best to get into the head of the big man. When Tyreese gets distracted by the arrival of a small herd of walkers, the Termite jumps up and he gets Judith by the neck, threatening to kill her if Tyreese doesn’t hand himself and his weapons over. Eventually he forces Tyreese outside of the cabin to face certain death by walker and you hear how the walkers go silent, presumably whilst chomping on Tyreese’ body. Just as the Termite think he’s won this battle and that he’s home free, Tyreese comes barging through the door and he kills the Termite with his bare hands.
After freeing a crazy bearded guy from a container, Rick and the guys find train cart A and they free Maggie, Abraham and the rest of the survivors. Finally, they escape and they make a break for the woods. When they manage to catch their breath and after they dug up Rick’s bag with the weapons, Rick wants to go back and finish off the remaining Termites. Everyone else are vehemently against going back, saying that they should try and put as much distance between themselves and Terminus. The arrival of Carol breaks up the argument and everybody, especially Daryl and Rick, are extremely happy to see her. She leads them to the cabin where she left Tyreese with baby Judith and we see the tearful reunion of the Grimes family when Rick takes Judith into his arms. As they leave the area, they see one of the signs promising sanctuary for all at Terminus. Rick picks up a piece of rock and he covers up the part of the wording promising sanctuary and he writes the word ‘No’ before sanctuary, warning people that there’s no sanctuary at Terminus.
The episode ends with another flashback to the early days of Terminus where we see that Mary was actually Gareth’s mother. She gets raped in an off screen encounter with a group of men and their leader, who looked suspiciously exactly like Negan from the comic book series. This seems to be the catalyst for Gareth and his people becoming ruthless cannibals. Right at the end of the credits we get a surprise end-credit scene – we see a masked man walking up to the sign board that Rick wrote on as they left the area. He turns around he takes off his mask and we see that it's Morgan, the very first man Rick encounter at the start of the TV series. He turns around and he sees a marking against the tree and then, just like that, it was the end of the episode.
It took me a few minutes to catch my breath and to be able to speak about I had just watched. There were so many feelings rushing through me that I didn’t even know where to start. I was terrified for baby Judith. If there is something I’ve learned from watching The Walking Dead, it’s that NO-ONE is safe, and any one of the main characters can die at any time. I was convinced that this is the way that Judith would die. Remember, in the comics she was killed alongside Lori when they fled from the prison and the TV writers decided to let her live through the massacre (when The Governor attacked the prison) so it wasn’t too farfetched to let her die by the hand of the prisoner in the cabin. I got that same sick feeling to my stomach like when I was watching the episode when Lizzy killed her sister but as we know now, Judith survived to see another day and to be reunited with her daddy and older brother Carl.
Tyreese obviously had some serious stuff to work through as we saw that he wasn’t ready to kill the walkers in the woods nor the prisoner in the cabin. The Termite caught ontohis frame of mind real quick, taunting Tyreese by telling him that he would die because he wouldn’t kill. We then saw that when the prisoner threatened to kill Judith, it tripped the switch in Tyreese’ brain that prevented him from killing again and he managed to take out all the walkers by himself as well as killing the prisoner. He’s still dealing with Carol shooting Lizzy as well as the fact that Carol was the person who killed Karen and the other survivors back at the prison in Season 4. How is he going to handle the situation now that they’ve joined up with the group again, I wonder?
Do you think Rick was correct in saying that they should go back and kill the surviving Termites? True, it would’ve put them on the same path as The Governor and the Woodbury folks but I can’t help but feeling that they should’ve gone back to finish the job at hand. We’ve seen time and time again that loose ends usually frays to the end of destruction and I can’t help but feel that this is a serious loose end that they are leaving to fray. Remember back in season 2, when Carl didn’t kill the walker that was stuck in the mud, and how the same walker ended up killing Dale in the field after following Carl back to Hershel’s farm? And still at the farm, Hershel’s refusal to kill the walkers in the barn almost meant the end of our survivors. Guys, honedtly, they should have sorted out the surviving Termites before they left.
My KILL OF THE WEEK was when Carol opened the door to let the walkers get to Mary. Even though we didn't get to see Mary actually die, I chose this kill just because Carol is the BOSS-LADY of The Walking Dead at the moment.
There were also quite a few hidden gems in this episode, some of which I noticed whilst watching it and some that was pointed out in the many many online forums that were buzzing about the return of The Walking Dead. How many of these did you see the first time round?
The blonde guy who got killed first at the trough was the boyfriend of the girl who died in the episode when Rick banished Carol from the prison. Remember we first met up with them when they were holed up in the house in the suburbs and we later saw his girlfriend being eaten by walkers. Well, it seems like he got away but he must’ve walked straight into the Terminus trap as he looked terrible during that scene. This character is played by Robin Lord Taylor, the same actor who plays The Penguin on another TV show based on comic books – Gotham. Mind blown … BOOOM
At the end of the episode we saw a roughneck guy throwing Mary back into the train cart where they were held prisoner. This image set off explosions throughout social media, as everybody thought they were introducing Negan from the comic books. Just as the fandom reached a pitch fever about this Easter egg, none other than Robert Kirkman himself took to Twitter to set the record straight – IT WAS NOT NEGAN!! Turns out, it was the bearded guy from earlier in the episode, they must’ve been keeping him prisoner all this time, most probably since they took Terminus back from the bad guys. We should be forgiven for jumping straight into the Negan assumption as it has been confirmed that the worst villain we’ve seen so far in The Walking Dead comics will be coming to the TV show soon.
The body that was being chopped up for steaks when Rick and them were being dragged into the warehouse was Gareth's brother, Alex. He was killed at the end of Season 4 when Rick held a gun to his head, and the Termites took him out so that he couldn't be of any use to our survivors anymore.
I’m also convinced that someone from the main group of survivors is going to die soon. This group is getting very large and anyone dying right now will have some serious impact on whoever gets left behind. It’s an open question whose next but let me tell you this, I can’t wait for episode 2, and it’s going to be awesome to see what happens next.
All photos courtesy of AMC.com